In 1926, less than a year after it went on the air, Radio Station KTAB
was leased by its owner, the Tenth Avenue Baptist Church of Oakland, to
a group of church members that had organized as The Associated
Broadcasters. The group oversaw the operation of the station under a
twenty-year lease, including a call letter change to KSFO in the Summer
In the mid-1940s, with the hope of regaining an affiliation with the CBS
radio network that the station had enjoyed from 1937 to 1941, KSFO's
owners commissioned engineering studies that would have resulted in a
power boost to 50,000 watts, along with trading dial spots from 560
kilocycles to 740 kilocycles — which happened to be the frequency
occupied by San Jose's KQW, the station that CBS had moved its network
programming to beginning in 1942.
The FCC approved the plan, but it stalled for several years until,
finally, a deal was struck: KSFO's owners gave up their bid, CBS
acquired KQW (making it KCBS) and obtained the permit to increase its
power to 50,000 watts on 740 kc. In exchange, CBS made KPIX-TV (Channel
5) — also owned by The Associated Broadcasters and KSFO — their
affiliate in the Bay Area.
KSFO's home from 1955 until 1983 was at
950 California Street, in the landmark
Fairmont Hotel and Tower
here to enlarge]
KSFO, meanwhile, remained an independent station until the Summer of
1956, when it was sold for $951,333 to legendary singing cowboy Gene
Autry and his business partner, Robert O. Reynolds, who also owned KMPC
in Los Angeles.
Under Autry's ownership and the deft guidance of general managers Bill
Shaw, Bert West and Jack Bankson, KSFO became the station that
virtually everyone in the Bay Area tuned to, whether it was for the
personalities — Don Sherwood, Jim Lange, Jack Carney, Del Courtney, Al
Collins, Dan Sorkin, Terry McGovern, Gene Nelson and Carter B. Smith
were just a few of the Hall of Fame-caliber voices heard at KSFO — or
the first-rate news team, or its professional sound and presentation, or
its sports coverage, with the Giants, 49ers and Stanford in its stable.
Autry, who also owned the
California Angels baseball club as well as Golden West radio station KMPC/Los Angeles, decided to sell KSFO in 1983 after more
than twenty-five years of ownership.
On October 19, 1983, the FCC
approved a $6-million deal that transferred ownership of KSFO from
Golden West to King Radio Broadcasting Co. of Seattle, which had been
the owner of KYA (1260 AM and 93.3 FM) in San Francisco. KSFO was
subsequently moved to new quarters at 300 Broadway. King sold KYA-AM to
Bonneville International, at which time it became KOIT, the simulcast
partner of the company's light rock FM station.
An amazing 15 minutes of the Jack Carney
program, with an assist from Mr. Sherwood. Bill Dodd, who
provided the recording, noted:
The "C.B. School of Modern
Radio Technique" was the Chris Borden School of Modern Radio
Technique. Chris had the weekend and fill-in gig at KSFO at
the time, and they didn't want his name on the spots. Chris
was the guy who told the engineer to roll the tape that day;
he knew it was going to be special. He'd probably be amazed
that I've kept it after all these years.
Carter has arrived at KSFO (from Berkeley's
KRE) as a staff newsman, but finds himself pressed into
service as Temporary Morning Man ("It appears that Mr.
Sherwood is ill today," Mr. Smith notes.) This recording is
also included in the Carter
Smith Collection, along with his audition tape from KRE.
A 'scoped "mix tape" from The World's Greatest
Radio Station, 1968 Edition, featuring Dean Webber (in for an
ailing Bobby Dale), Herb Kennedy, plenty of
Carter B. Smith, and a guest appearance by program director
Based on audio clues, the recording is probably from early
A 25-minute segment of KSFO's evening
broadcast for the last day of 1969, presided over by Jack
Carney, and featuring a complete Lon Simmons 5:45
p.m. "Sports Roundup" looking back on the previous year's
sports highlights (with the voices of Russ Hodges, Bill
Thompson and Don Klein also included), plus a newscast
anchored by Herb Kennedy.
This excerpt, courtesy of Ron Tamm, was salvaged from a full-length reel-to-reel
tape of the evening's festivities; unfortunately, the tape
had been damaged by motor oil that had seeped into the
storage carton, mostly destroying the recording.
The KSFO news department presents a special
series on the effects that a major earthquake would have on
the Bay Area, including a dramatic live report on the
"aftermath" featuring Jeff Skov, Aaron Edwards,
Dave Henderson, Bill Heyward, Chet
working weekends on KSFO during 1970 and 1971, has the
pleasure of producing and hosting two of the most
interesting programs heard on the station during the Golden
West era. "The Unforgettable Years," heard on
Sunday nights, was a four-hour aural retrospective of one
year between 1929 and 1969. "Norman's Organic Mind
Garden," heard for four hours on Saturday nights, was
significantly more esoteric in both sound and content —
and would perhaps have led the listener to believe that he
or she had tuned to KSAN or one of the more underground
"acid rock" FM outlets rather than more stately
and staid KSFO.
Bill Dodd presents a historical (and
hysterical) revue of KSFO flubs, goofs and blunders from
over the years, with appearances by such notables as Don
Sherwood, Jack Carney, Aaron Edwards,
Scott Beach, Terry McGovern, Russ Hodges
and Lon Simmons, among others.
A Tribute To Don Sherwood (1925-1983), November 4, 1983
battled emphysema for many years, Donnie Babe passed away
just weeks after the sale of KSFO was announced, and a bit
more than a month before the station moved out of the
Fairmont Hotel and became the property of King Broadcasting.
KSFO suspended regular programming for the day to pay
tribute to The World's Greatest Disc Jockey.
Larry's final show on Golden West's KSFO,
including farewells from "singing newscaster" Aaron
and staff engineer Rich Schmale, and plenty of
sentimental tunes, with a heavy emphasis on Sinatra.
Jerry Gordon hosts the final "KSFO
Comedy Hour," with Mal Sharpe and a very convincing
Gene Autry impersonation by "Fiddle Ray" Landsberg,
as a bevy of local television news crews crowd into the
Fairmont Hotel studios to record the station's waning
moments as the property of Golden West Broadcasting. In the
final half-hour, Don Sherwood (via
the magic of audio tape) reads from "Winnie The Pooh,"
before Jerry Gordon signs off "The World's Greatest Radio
Station" for the last time with the legendary "Sound
Of The City" KSFO theme song.
...Then, at midnight (about 45 minutes into
the recording), as Golden West turns KSFO over to King
Broadcasting, the station begins its next era with comments
by general manager Fred Schumacher and program
director Ken Dennis before
Al "Jazzbeaux" Collins
makes his return to Bay Area airwaves from WNEW/New York. In
addition, KSFO's new midday personality, Russ "The Moose"
Syracuse, and PM driver Carter B. Smith make
surprise appearances by phone.
Exhibit includes text and audio.
— Exhibit includes audio.
— Fair-to-poor audio quality.
— Edited (scoped) aircheck.
* — Included in The Don
— Courtesy of Alan Kline.
BD — Courtesy of Bill Dodd.
— Courtesy of Ben Fong-Torres.
CBS — Courtesy of Carter
— Courtesy of John Schneider.
MS — Courtesy of Mike
ND — Courtesy of Norman
NH — Courtesy of Norm Howard.
RT — Courtesy of Ron Tamm.
VI — Courtesy of Victor Ives.